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Anti-Semitism inquiry launched by Parliament: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 6 February 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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John Mann MP

The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPGAS) has launched an inquiry into electoral conduct in the U.K.

The member for Bassetlaw, John Mann (Lab.) the chairman of the APPGAS said the group would “investigate and evaluate the effectiveness of existing lines of responsibility and accountability in managing elections and specifically, charges of misconduct during elections with a particular focus on racism and discrimination.”

The member for Northeast Derbyshire, Natascha Engel (Lab), will chair the all-party inquiry. “I am convinced that in both learning from existing good practice and bringing new ideas to the fore we can change electoral conduct for the better. In doing so, we will give confidence to constituents, clarity to candidates and we will establish a British model of electoral best practice.”

The vice-chair of the group, the member for Ealing Central and Acton, Angie Bray (Cons.) said:Maintaining best practice in electoral conduct by preventing racist and anti-Semitic campaigning and literature is a crucial aspect in the fight against intolerance and I look forward to working with colleagues across many parties in both Houses to see how best we can join together to provide sensible solutions to these problems.”

Britain has come under criticism in recent months from Jewish leaders and civil rights activists for the growing culture of public anti-Semitism. The member for Bradford East, David Ward was disciplined by the Liberal Democrat Party last week after posting comments about Jews and Israel on his website to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Mr Ward wrote he had “signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day” and describes Auschwitz as “the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history”.

But he added: “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

The comments have subsequently been taken down. A party spokesman told the Telegraph: “This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”

The inquiry will not be restricted to anti-Semitism, however, and “will focus on discrimination more broadly and is being supported by the APPGs on Equalities and Race & Community,” the announcement said.